City, nonprofit anticipate funds for demolition

ELKINS — Funding may be arriving shortly to help in dealing with dilapidated properties within city limits, according to information discussed at Monday’s Public City Committee of Elkins City Council meeting.

Recently the city of Elkins has worked with Woodlands Development Group, a non-profit that assists in housing development and neighborhood improvement, on the issue of dilapidated buildings.

Woodlands is “close” to being awarded a loan consisting of $125,000 in available West Virginia Housing Development Fund demolition financing to assist with future demolitions of dilapidated buildings throughout the city, officials said Monday.

“It was designed as a product to be used for municipalities and county governments, but not a lot of people across the state were using the product,” said Woodlands Executive Director Dave Clark. “We agreed to apply for this loan product directly to Woodlands in an agreement with the city so we can. We have an MOU (memorandum of understanding) in place between Woodlands and the city.”

The Housing Development Fund is still in the process of closing the loan, officials said.

“We’re very close now. It’s all been approved in the year and a half we’ve been working on it,” Clark said.

“The city agreed, working with (Elkins Operations Manager) Bob (Pingley), that we would use the city’s equipment and staff where appropriate to tear down some of these buildings. We would help finance the cost of removal and disposal, and when the city couldn’t do it, would use that same financing to pay a contractor to do that work,” said Clark.

The first completed demolition project between Woodlands and the city (also partnering with Freedom Bank) occurred in early July with the razing of a vacant and dilapidated house.

“We’re now looking at options for what’s next. As far as Woodlands is concerned, we’ve been trying to keep this financing very flexible and not get pigeonholded,” said Clark. “We can treat it more as a line of credit. So, when we jointly, the city and Woodlands, identify places for work, we can then use this financing. We don’t have to go through an application process on every property.”